I’m spending most of my day on the campus of Northeastern – where I will begin a Ph.D. program this fall – so it seems only appropriate that I share a bit about Northeastern’s history today.

While the name “Northeastern University” dates to 1922, the school marks its founding as 1898. It was that year when, under auspices of the Boston YMCA, “the Evening Law Institute” was established.

According the Northeastern University School of Law, the program – the first evening law program in Boston – was groundbreaking. “The school was founded on the notion that a law school could and should respond to the needs of local community — a maverick educational idea at the time.”

The law program was soon followed by an Automobile School – the first automobile engineering school in the country – an Evening Polytechnic School, a School of Commerce and Finance, and a Cooperative Engineering School – all by 1910.

In 1926, Northeastern established the “Husky” as its mascot – an effort it apparently took quite seriously as it “inaugurated” a real-life husky, King Husky I, for that role. Northeastern went through several such live mascots before eventually deciding it was a bad idea.

While King Husky I apparently had a peaceful reign before dying of natural causes, the same could not be said for those who followed in the role.

King Husky III was put to sleep over 1955 summer vacation. When appalled students learned of this in the fall, they penned a scathing editorial for the student paper. When administrators stepped in to keep the piece from running, four editors resigned in protest.

Queen Husky II abdicated due to stage fright and was replaced by her son, King Husky VI, who was named in 1972. When this poor husky escaped his kennel and was struck by a car less than two months after taking his post, Northeastern apparently decided put the days of dog monarchy on pause.

In 1959, during an earlier break in the university’s live-mascot history, Northeastern began electing a “Mr. Husky” from the male student body. Despite adding a “Ms. Husky” in later years, this apparently began to be understood as a bad idea.

It seems that these elections may still happen, but the official school mascot, “Paws” was introduced in 2003 to, in the diplomatic language of Wikipedia, “replace the student-elected Mr. and Mrs. Husky with a more athletic and charismatic mascot.”

And if you are wondering, Northeastern is apparently back to having a live Mascot, King Husky VIII, who was named in 2005.

And why all the focus on huskies? The mascot was selected by a Northeastern committee, and the the first Husky to fill the role was trained in Poland Springs, Maine by Leonhard Seppala.

According to Northeastern:

When Vice President Carl Ell sought out Seppala in 1927, he did so not only because Northeastern needed a mascot but because Seppala had already inspired one great tradition: the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  In 1925, Nome, Alaska experienced an infamous diphtheria epidemic in which teams of sled dogs played an important role in bringing diphtheria serum through extremely harsh conditions.  Leonhard Seppala and his team of Siberian huskies carried the serum over 91 miles of the treacherous relay.

So there you have it. Another mystery solved. I guess.


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